Our tree went up on it’s appointed day. While others were doing battle in far off places like Wal Mart and Target, I was engaged in my own with boxes, lights and bows. It was a much different experience transforming this place into it’s Christmas wonderland. With my wife’s still limited mobility, she became the foreman and chief designer and I became the laborer. I would have to say that the working arrangements were better than any other place of employment. With different furniture after 8 years here, we now had a new setting to deal with and the hardwoods just seemed to make it even “christmasier”.
Anyway, back to the tree. I love our tree. It’s lights are already built in and after years of stringing and bulb checks, I think that I’m quite entitled. After all, I’m sure that Santa has never dealt with his own lights so why should I? As I said, she was the foreman, I was the laborer, and the task was the tree. She unpacked the ornament boxes, handed them to me, and watched with amusement as I tried to “engineer” it’s design. Have I told you that we really have too many ornaments for this tree? I’m needing to do some “quake like” reinforcement to be assured that it will remain in an upright position and so it won’t void the warranty. My wife and I don’t agree on engineering. We always get to a point, each and every year, where I see the tree as half full and she see’s half empty, which means…………..more ornaments. And so it went on “Black Friday”. She kept handing and I kept searching for adequate space. It’s a spruce not a redwood after all.
What is interesting about ornaments, if you do this thing right, is that each of them has a story. Each was bought somewhere or brought somehow and became part of our monument to stories. There are store bought and home made. If you do this tree thing right, there are hardly any, if any random ornaments. If fact, if you do it correctly, you don’t have to have any “ornaments”. What you have is only stories. We have one that was bought on our honeymoon in the Christmas store on Cape Cod. We have the one of my grandfather holding our nearly newborn firstborn. We have one with a picture of Joanne and I washing dishes together near the time of our first Christmas. We have every “first Christmas” kind of ornament. We have the ones from preschooler’s and later schoolers. We have the one from the Corning Glass museum bought during the summer of my internship. We have those that were given by people in our community o’ faith. We have the antique ones left to my wife from her mom. By the end of the day, we no longer have a tree, we have a collection of stories standing in our window, lit by fiber optics for all the world to see.
If you were to walk by our house in the evening, and many people do, you’ll see our story burning brightly in the corner windows. The wonder of this all, for me, is that, over the years, our story has been woven into “The Story” that this season resonates with. All around us, especially in my line of work, we are reminded of the larger story of the baby in the manger,shepherds and sheep and the ushering in of hope that we celebrate this time of year. I’m not just a spectator in this one. I’m a story that is part of his story. I get to be an ornament on a bigger tree. My ornament probably looks more preschool than grad school. But I’m placed on there lovingly just the same.